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Self-care and human rights activism

When it comes to giving advice on self-care, I think I do a great job but when it comes to me putting it into practice, I get a B+. Not bad but not impressive either considering how important self-care is for anybody. Haha!

As a human rights activist, I find that self-care is easy to overlook. This is because activists tend to be selfless people who are geared more towards helping others than themselves. Activists tend to be ardent readers and very engaged in community work.

During the first year of my blog’s creation, I blogged every week. As time went on, I then changed the pattern to every two weeks. Now that I work with the Red Cross as a Case Worker for the wildfires recovery operation in Fort McMurray, Canada, I blog every 3 weeks. Essentially, the intervals at which I blog, changed with time in order for me to incorporate adequate free time to my usually busy schedule. These days, if I read an article on war/poverty/hate that hurts and nearly provokes me to tears, I may share it on social media but I may not expatiate on it except with a family member who can comfort me in the process. Self-care is important, friends.

During the times when I blogged every week, I found myself to be more furious about issues that I wrote about. I found myself also putting a lot of pressure on me, to write on a certain issue at a particular time of the month, rather than postpone. I still get furious at issues of social injustice going on around the world, however, I have learnt that for me, sometimes rushing to write on those issues, makes me very tense and worked up in the writing process. I learnt that I can channel my immediate anger through tweets, Facebook posts or by sharing news articles on an issue. Nothing is too little indeed. Positive awareness-making is positive awareness-making.

For activists, self-care is so important. There is need to create a balance in such a way that you still are compassionate but are able to grieve without constantly diminishing your strength and increasing your stress levels. For example, people who work in disaster management/recovery like myself are very often given training on self-care. You will face trauma in the field of your work, so there should be an action plan to balance the trauma with self-care.

A self-care plan will look different for different people. You can have a family member or buddy who you can discuss social injustice issues with. You can have a sort of review club that meets at intervals and during these meetings, you can discuss your worries as an activist and be heard, comforted and supported by others. And, on social media, do not always engage with trolls who are bent on shaming you for caring and for doing what is right.

While I gave myself a B+ on self-care, I have come a long way in handling my emotions as a human rights activist and in balancing my engagements with community work – in such a way that I give myself opportunity to breathe from the trauma that often comes with being a social justice advocate. This in no way means that I have stopped to care. I will never stop caring.

Self-care is important, friends. Make your own self-care plan. If there are any human rights activists reading this, do you have a self-care plan that you implement, to balance the work that you do? If yes, please do share your plan in the Comments section, if you want to. 🙂

Love,
Chiamaka

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Now, there will be no more pain but beautiful mornings. RIP Sandra Bland

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Sandra Bland was outspoken about the injustice that African-Americans often face. Footage from several of her inspirational videos where she would call on social change, have emerged. She would greet her viewers saying “Goodmorning my beautiful kings and queens”. She spoke with grace and calmness as she talked about injustice and the need for society as a whole to work towards social change, fairness and equality. She spoke with brilliance. Today, that brilliance, that beautiful queen is gone.

On July 10, in Waller County, Texas, Sandra Bland was stopped for changing lanes without any signalling and was later arrested on the allegation that she had assaulted an officer. Three days after her arrest, she was found dead in her cell room. Bland was 28 years old. Her death has been ruled a suicide. However, her family, the public and myself are not buying that. There is suspicion of foul play all around. In America, police has many times, been everything but a friend to African-Americans. Many unarmed black people because of their skin colour, have been shot dead by police officers. The stories of such murders are numerous and disturbing, so this particular story that Sandra Bland would have taken her own life is not one that will be easily embraced. More investigating is needed. Coupled with the fact of police brutality on black people in America, Sandra Bland was visibly full of life, full of hope for social change. As observable from her videos, she struck a presence of someone who was not quitting. She was in this life to win. So, we are really asking the police – what happened to Sandy Bland?

As many wait for more details to emerge, I feel so sad that an activist for racial equality and unity like Sandra Bland possibly went through the evils that she so wanted to work towards getting rid of. In several different videos that Sandy had recorded, she can be seen saying things like – “I was asked was I trying to racially unite or racially insight. My goal is to racially unite.”, “I’m going to call out racism wherever I see it.”, “for the ones who want to get on on my page talking about ‘all lives matter’, show me in American history where all lives have mattered. Where has there been liberty and justice for all?”.

Thank you Sandy for your service to humanity. I wish that you now sleep well in the place where there will always be beautiful mornings and where there is no more pain and injustice. God bless you.

Love & Peace,

Chiamaka

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